Monday, March 8, 2010

Peter and the Starcatchers

Here's a book that made quite a splash when it came out. It's the first of a trilogy (more recently extended to four books) that provides a prequel story to James Barrie's timeless classic Peter Pan. And it's written by thriller writer Ridley Pearson and comedian Dave Barry. This is supposed to be good? I wonder.

And then I read the book.

How did Peter Pan get to Neverland? How did Captain Hook get there, and what all made him first start to hate Peter? How did Peter come to know the natives? And why did Peter seek out Wendy on that fateful night? Some of these questions will be answered here! The rest... well, that's what sequels are for.

Peter is an orphan on a ship, the Never Land en route to the land of Rundoon when he spies two things. First, there is a chest filled with something strange and extremely valuable. Second, there is Molly Aster, a girl about his age... who is almost as mischievous as him.

The ship is overtaken by the ruthless pirate Black Stache, and Peter and Molly, along with several of Peter's orphan friends, are stranded on an uncharted island. They have nothing with them but the clothes on their backs...

...And the mysterious chest.

I had no idea of how such different writers as Barry and Pearson could come together for any project, or how their writing styles could be in any way meshed. Well, it actually worked, and the writing flowed quite nicely. The style has some humor, some suspense, and a very nice sense of wonder. It's immensely enjoyable getting to see all the pieces fall into place, and to see characters begin to transform into the characters of Barrie's novel. Peter Pan flies off the page once again, ready to be enjoyed by an entirely new generation. It's a lot of fun, and a great, great read.

My rating: 9.5/10

Coming Soon: Young Frankenstein and Peter and the Shadow Thieves.


Anonymous said...

It's a cool adventure story on its own, sure. But a prequel to Peter Pan it is NOT. There are TONS of mistakes as compared to Barrie's original stories (not to mention that Peter Pan HAD a backstory they completely ignored.)
List of Differences

How can they can be so disrespect of another author's work (let alone classic literature)?

There is a Pan story that's faithful... even based on Barrie's own idea for more. Click here to see.


Okie said...

I keep intending to read this. I've always loved the books, plays, movies, etc of Peter Pan and Neverland. For some reason, even though I was excited by this new set of novels, I still haven't picket them up.

Thanks for a great review to help remind me that I want to read this series.

The Writer said...

It's always good to have a post that fires up discussion...

Never Fairy, thanks for the links. It's been years since I've read the original, and some of that stuff I had absolutely not been exposed to before. I hadn't been previously aware of just how much Barrie laid down in writing about Peter's past. Perhaps they'd do better to call it a reworking, like what Tim Burton did with Alice in Wonderland.

Okie, it's quite an enjoyable book, with some nice wit and heart, even if it does veer from many of Barrie's lesser-known details. It was a fast read, too, and the 450 pages are gone in a heartbeat. Tune in soon for Peter and the Shadow Thieves.